Career Transitions Forum

The Career Transitions Forum (CTF) is a unique series of lectures, presentations, and networking activities designed to support professionals who are transitioning in their careers.

Professionals from recruitment firms, corporations, and the local community will present a broad array of job search strategies and tips, with a different topic presented each week. New participants can join any week.  

Free Career Advising

Career Advising is available from our prestigious team of business executives for those who have attended at least one CTF session and preferably who have completed an HRD resume class. 

To schedule an appointment, submit the CTF Career Advising Request form, which is available at CTF meetings on Thursdays from 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM at Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh.

Here are details on our current panel of advisors:

Al Rankin: has been involved as a leader and/or advisor of CTF and its predecessors since 2008. Over a long career, he headed corporate communications for Marriott International and 3 other NYSE companies in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas. His experience ranges from branding and media relations to stakeholder and crisis communications, including speechwriting and non-profit development. In 2016, he joined Fonville Morisey Realty as a Realtor. He holds B.J. and M.A. degrees from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Peter Large: Peter has been working with Career Transitions since 2012 assisting people with resume reviews, networking strategies, and interview preparation. Peter is a retired IBM Project Executive, where he held various sales and sales management positions prior to serving as Practice Leader for a software integration services business focused on the retail sector. Peter has expertise in business management, customer relationships and project management. He has a BS degree in Engineering from the University of Toronto.

Joy Hodge: a thought leader in career and talent management, with over 20 years’ experience designing innovative strategies, products and solutions to boost the effectiveness of leaders, managers, employees, and organizations. Joy directly impacted business results, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement and retention at Fidelity Investments and GlaxoSmithKline, and gained deep experience in managing HRD product development teams at Global Knowledge. She has advanced degrees in Adult Education and Learning and Development from NC State University.

Prashant Pandya: is a Senior Financial Advisor and Certified Financial Planner who helps guide individuals, families, trusts, and business owners towards achieving their financial goals and dreams. Areas of expertise include investments, taxes, retirement, insurance and estate planning. Prashant is also a Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor who can assist with 401K retirement plans and a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor. Prior to working in financial services, Prashant worked with IBM in various hardware and software architecture, consulting and management roles.

Lara Gardner: is Technical Group Recruiting Manager at BB&T and served in a similar role at IBM. She manages a team of 4-6 technical recruiters and has direct experience with recruiting and hiring, as well as setting recruiting strategies and serving as the executive recruiter for senior technical leadership positions within BB&T.

Claire Boland: Claire has held numerous HR leadership roles at both small and large fortune 500 companies within banking, life sciences, and manufacturing arenas. She has worked extensively in talent identification and employee development to help develop employee strengths, skill gaps, and development opportunities. Currently, she splits her time between HR consulting with global companies and with Right Management, where she works with candidates in transition.

Rachel Cox: Rachel cultivates and develops people, helping them leverage their strengths through training and coaching. For the past 6 years, she has been a Coach with The Entrepreneur's Source and volunteers with Dress for Success, the Better Business Bureau, and American Corporate Partnership. She comes from the hospitality and event planning industry. During her career, she rebranded 2 hotels to improve market share. she was a Regional Director over 13 markets across the nation and a General Manager for 9 years, orchestrating $5M budgets. She has launched 2 startups - a vending model and a web-based model. She also created a women's networking group called "Women in the Workforce."

Olivia Ecker: Olivia is the Director, Talent Acquisition & Employee Experience at HZO, Inc. and has professional experience in the biopharmaceutical, financial services, and technology industries. Olivia is passionate about the 4 phases of “The Employee Experience” including candidates, new hires, employees and alumni in full support of a “people first” HR Strategy. Recently, she experienced her own career transition and is dedicating her time outside of work to helping others who are experiencing career transitions of their own. Olivia relocated to North Carolina in 2018 and is also volunteering with Raleigh SHRM, Dress for Success NC, and the Raleigh Rescue Mission. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications & Political Science from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. 

Schedule of Events


July 18 | Paul Dean | Careering: How to Find and Maintain Meaningful Work in Today's Economy


Come hear from Paul Dean discuss and share topics on his recently published book on "Careering." As a Co-author of “Careering,” Paul was laid off three separate times from the same high tech firm over an 11-year period.  Paul will share tips on how to: overcome the emotional impact of job loss and/or fear or paralysis associated with job or career changes; truly discover life and career passion and purpose; He will share his secrets to building a second career and will provide a real-world perspective on the struggles, challenges and benefits of life after corporate America. 

Paul has over 30 years of business experience in diverse occupations, from Information Technology to Forestry. He is a NC Registered Consulting Forester and founding director of the Career Network Ministry at St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church. Paul holds a B.S. degree in both Computer Science and Forest Management from Auburn University.

July 25 | Olivia Ecker | Job Fair Preparation Workshop

Come join us for this interactive workshop designed to sharpen your skills for the upcoming WRAL Capital Area Career Expo on August 10th! This session will be led by Olivia Ecker, the Director of Talent Acquisition & Employee Experience at HZO, a nanotechnology company that recently opened offices in the RTP area. With a background in pharma, finance, and technology, Olivia understands the local job market well and can give us a behind-the-scenes, HR perspective of how recruiting and job fairs operate. Olivia will lead a discussion on these critical topics related to job fair and networking success:

- Refining Your Elevator Pitch 
- How to Work the Room!
- How to Approach & Follow Up with Recruiters
- Understanding the “Inside HR” Process


There will be no class on this date. We encourage you to attend the WRAL Capital Area Career Expo instead! For more information, go to 

Aug 8 | Rachel Cox | The Power of Networking

Come join CTF Advisor Rachel Cox for this informative session on the power of networking. Rachel Cox comes from the hospitality and event planning industry. During her career, she rebranded 2 hotels to improve market share. she was a Regional Director over 13 markets across the nation and a General Manager for 9 years, orchestrating $5M budgets. She has launched 2 startups - a vending model and a web-based model. She also created a women's networking group called "Women in the Workforce."

Aug 15 | Terri March | “How Do You Show Up?”

What factors contribute to that critical first impression at a job interview or networking event?  What are the keys to standing out from the crowd and being remembered favorably? Whether you're male or female, you'll enjoy this interactive session on how to best present yourself through body language and appearance. Statistics show that making a great first impression can potentially get you a job offer that's 8 to 20% higher!

After a long career in purchasing with major local entities like SAS, Lenovo and the US Department of Agriculture, Terri March became a Certified Personal Stylist and started her own business in personal styling and image consulting. She represents Ruby Ribbon shape wear and offers a variety of style services including personal shopping, closet clean out, and color analysis. Check out her Facebook business page:

Aug 22 | Dan Scala | Discovering Your “Wow” and how to use it

Join us for a highly interactive program with Dan Scala, designed to people through transitional and trying times. Dan Scala is the co-founder of the “Center for Excellence”, a learning and development center serving small business owners, sales professionals and entrepreneurs in the Raleigh area.

During his presentation, Dan will share his personal experiences of transition and success over the past 20 years after leaving the corporate world to pursue his own dreams and grow two companies to over the $M mark. He will discuss the personal mindset and attitude changes required to open a whole new world of possibilities to transform you and your future.

Trinity Baptist Church - Fellowship Hall
4815 Six Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC
Directions to Church
Church Campus Map

Day & Time:
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Arrive early and stay after for valuable informal networking!

This is a moderated group. Professionals must attend one or more CTF sessions to join.

Enhance Your Resume, Market yourself, Explore A New Career

HRD (Human Resources Development) courses provide assistance for adults who are trying to find employment, transitioning back into the workforce, or working to redefine their professional niche in today's global market. HRD offers many relevant classes that will help equip you for success in your job search. 

What our students are saying...

I have accepted an offer from Cisco as a Marketing Manager in their Enterprise Networking group. You can say that “networking” will be my job and not only a means for career advancement!
I am really thankful to you and other leaders and participants of Career Transition Forum group for their tremendous support, encouragement, willingness to help, opening rolodex’s, and insights into the modern hiring process. I truly learned from the wonderful speakers you invited, and from others’ experiences.
I am happy to extend help to anyone in the group to the extent I can.
- Vivek B., CTF Alumni

Today, I landed a permanent position at IAT Insurance as a Technical Project Manager/Process & Change Manager.  I am really excited!  It's truly a dream job for me where I will use all of my certifications. I could not have done it without your support and advice! Especially these 2 simple steps that REALLY made me a stand-out candidate:

  1. Networked with employed people in my field (which led to a friendship with an IAT IT staff member --> which led to my sincere interest in IAT --> which led to a referral!)
  2. Shared stories about specific technical projects I managed that are directly related to projects that IAT is planning to undertake now. 

- Elizabeth R., CTF Alumni

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